6 Ways to Live by Your Organization’s Core Values

Culture

March 10, 2021

Margaux Morgante

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5 min

Clear values give every member of your organization a sense of direction and a definition of success in every interaction and task.

Professional team brainstorms together on what values matter most to them, before unlocking the full potential of Kudos.

Table of Contents

This article is part 3 of our 5-part Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist Series:

In the last few years, our resilience has been tested beyond imagination.

We adapted to remote work, virtual meetings, and distributed workforces. However, the loss of camaraderie, connection, and collaboration in communal spaces is still deeply felt. Now, as the dust settles, we must reclaim what we lost and forge ahead.

The key lies in refocusing on our mission, vision, and values. This article explores how organizational values can drive belonging, well-being, employee engagement, and reduced turnover, ultimately leading to a resilient workforce and a thriving culture.

Organizational Values and the Bottom Line

Clear values give every member of your organization a sense of direction. They outline the definition of success in every task and interaction. The right core values can drive belonging and wellbeing, improved employee engagement, and reduced turnover. But most importantly, tying performance measurement and recognition to those fundamental values enables you to build a resilient workforce with a robust culture, laser-focused on what matters most to your organization. It doesn't hurt business performance either.

According to Gallup, the problem is only 23% of employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization's values to their everyday work.

Does this problem sound all too familiar? These six tips should help you bridge that gap. Here’s how to do it:

1. Define What Your Values Look Like in Action

Sometimes values seem too aspirational; or worse, just corporate jargon.

Identify specific behaviors and tie them to each core value to make them more clear. In doing so, you give your team guidance. Your values become their North Star, directing their day-to-day decisions to best reflect your company. This method can be especially helpful in organizations of remote workers, who have less supervision or guidance readily available.

Let's break down some behaviors that could be tied to particular values, including Integrity – the most popular value in US companies, according to a recent MIT Study.

These behaviors should also extend to how your employees treat clients.

company core values chart

Action Step: Take time during your next management meeting to define critical behaviors for each core value. If you struggle to do so, it may be time to revisit and refine your values.

2. Communicate Values Consistently and Often

To ensure your values drive the desired culture and performance, your employees need to know them. Organizational values are often buried in employee manuals or deep in the corporate intranet. It’s likely that many of your employees don’t even know your values.

Avoid burying your organizational values in employee manuals or deep within the corporate intranet. Instead, give them a prominent presence and make them easily accessible. Get creative in spreading the word. Incorporate values into office décor, display them in email signatures, or customize Zoom backgrounds and company intranet homepage for remote teams.

Action Step: Develop a clever acronym to make your values easier to remember, but ensure it aligns with your values and is not the sole determinant.

Here's Kudos' acronym:

 Transparency
 Happiness
 Accountable
 Nnovation
 Kollaboration

3. Recruit and Hire with Your Values in Mind

Once you've identified key behaviors tied to your values, start looking for candidates who exhibit those behaviors during the hiring process. Openly share your values and communicate to candidates the importance of value-alignment. Craft behavioral questions that uncover if candidates align with your core values, and be open and honest in interviews about the values you hold dear.

A great example of a company being open about values in recruitment is the meal-kit company, HelloFresh. Another example is popular online shoe and clothing retailer, Zappos. They have a recruitment video that displays their culture in a radical way, with the purpose of attracting people who align with their values and repelling those who don’t.

Action Step: Work with your HR team to create behavioral interview questions that assess candidates' alignment with your core values. Here are some practical behavioral-style interview questions to get you started.

4. Address any divides between what you say, and what you do

Leaders and executives are closely observed by the entire organization. Employees look to management for cues on how to act and react, especially in challenging situations. Leaders must embody the core values they want their employees to live by. For example, if transparency is a core value, leaders should openly communicate about challenges the company is facing. If collaboration is valued, involve representatives from all company levels and functions in special projects or working groups.
A great example of this is how Microsoft handled the onset of the global pandemic in 2020. Microsoft's corporate values are respect, integrity, and accountability. When COVID-19 first hit in March, Microsoft announced they would continue to pay all hourly service providers their regular pay during the period of reduced service needs. They embodied their core values at a time when all employees were watching.

Action Step: During difficult situations, ensure your reactions align with your core values and make any necessary adjustments. Remember that your employees will follow your lead.

5. Work and Play by your Values

Consistency is crucial when emphasizing the importance of your values to your team. If one of your core values is health and wellness, make sure your actions align with it. For example, celebrating wins with cake and alcohol may contradict the value. To truly live your values, ensure they are integrated into all aspects of your organization.

Here’s a great example: one of Airbnb’s core values is “Be the Host.” Fittingly, during a recent annual meeting, they encouraged local employees to host their visiting colleagues for dinner at their home or at a local restaurant. This isa perfect example of truly living your values.

Action Step: Challenge your social committee to align staff events and celebrations with your corporate values. If something doesn't align, make changes to demonstrate your commitment to living the values.

6. Recognize and Reward Value-aligned Behaviors

One of the most effective ways to reinforce values in your corporate culture is by recognizing and rewarding behaviors that align with those values. This can be done formally through performance reviews and informally through regular recognition. Informal recognition keeps values top of mind and contributes to building the desired organizational culture.

Action Step: Consider implementing an employee recognition and engagement platform, like Kudos®, to facilitate daily peer-to-peer recognition that reinforces specific value-aligned behaviors.

Organizational values are a powerful tool that should not be overlooked. When values are translated into specific behaviors, they guide employees in their work, fostering a meaningful and valuable contribution to the organization. By incorporating values into daily life and genuinely living by them, organizations can connect their workforce and drive everyone toward a shared goal, resulting in improved performance and resilience.

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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